5 Top Croatian, 4 Michelin Star Chefs, 1 Uninhabited Island: Quite a Festa on Zut

By 1 September 2018

A rather special 25-year anniversary will take place on an uninhabited island much loved by celebrities on September 4, 2018, and there is quite a team of culinary talent to ensure one of the gourmet events of the year. 

I will confess that I am beyond excited. 

But before I tell you all, I ask you to close your eyes for a minute and imagine a scene. 


The year is 1993, the height of the Homeland War, with Croatia battling for its survival after declaring independence from former Yugoslavia. 

Somewhere in the Adriatic, on one of the 1,244 islands that dot that slice of paradise, a decision was made to open a restaurant on an island called Zut. An island which had no water, no electricity, no ferry and no inhabitants. And, given that the country was in the middle of a war, no tourists. As an outstanding business idea, on a scale of 1 to 100, this was a business idea which on the surface scored about minus two million. 


And yet... 

Croatia never ceases to amaze me, in its beauty, its absurdity and in the incredible characters it produces, some of them who battle against all the odds (and if you spend any time in Croatia, you will quickly learn that the odds are huge) in order to achieve their dreams. 


And so it was, some 24 years after that inauspicious opening of a restaurant on an uninhabited island with no water, electricity, ferry or inhabitants, that I first visited the island of Zut and its celebrated Restaurant Festa, whose culinary reputation had sailed well beyond the Adriatic, and guests included the likes of Federer, Djokovic and Modric - and that was just from the sporting world. 


I came in November, out of season, with the fabulous team from Gastronaut, and even though Festa had opened up just for us, I realised that I had stumbled upon one of the true gems of Croatian nautical tourism, a restaurant which had not only succeeded but excelled beyond all possible expectations. I wrote a eulogy to Festa, an ode of admiration to a business that was thriving not because of State support, but in spite of the State, with its high taxation and lack of understanding and support of luxury island hospitality. You can read my November article here


I had not done the maths on the 25 years, or even expected to hear from the restaurant again (it was of course on my list to sail to when the TCN millions started rolling in and I would buy my own boat), and so it was it was with considerable pleasure that I recently received an invitation to Festa's 25th birthday party. That restaurant which opened in 1993 during the war on an uninhabited island with no water, electricity etc etc. 


And then when I read the detail of the invitation, my eyes nearly popped out of my head - no less than four Michelin star chefs, plus five of Croatia's most famous culinary names, and a renowned cocktail meister to add a little quality liquid refreshment to proceedings. 

Has such a star-studded gourmet team ever been assembled on a Croatian island before? 

Rather than introduce them, let them introduce themselves via the Restaurant Festa Facebook page:


World-class barmen Marin Nekić will have an important role of 'marrying' local 'herbarium' with premium spirits.


Each of his dishes tells its own story. What the canvas is for the painter, that's the plate for Croatian #chef Hrvoje Zirojević. (Photo Tom Dubravec)


"From the moment you step into the restaurant and until you leave, everything must have meaning and be orchestrated in perfect harmony." Croatian chef Tom Gretić


A gastronomic event without a good dessert is just an event. Croatian chef Josip Vrsaljko is in charge of it during #FeštaDays from 4th to 5th of September. (Photo Davor Strenja Photography)


"I'm trying to show people real nutritional values and how to present them in gastronomy, because every food preparation is not gastronomy. ⁣
Therefore, grilled or cooked food is not gastronomy. Destroying the food so it loses its value is a pity." - David Skoko, Croatian chef


"I am a chef and I keep working on myself. ⁣

"I think achieving perfection in the kitchen is closely related to balance. In itself and with nature." Chef Dino Galvagno⁣ (Photo


"I don't know exactly what is criteria to get the Michelin star, but what I'm sure is that the most important thing is to prepare meals from the heart." -? Michelin's Felice Sgarra

Felice will be joined by fellow Michelin Star chefs Massimo Camia, Giuseppe Costa and Cristian Torsiello.

TCN will be reporting back on this event... 

There may still be tickets available. You can contact the restaurant on